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Danger to a free society

April 25, 2013 - Blaine Hyska
I’m all for catching the Boston bombers, yet I’m nervous about all the surveillance. There are eyes, ears — and cameras — everywhere.

They played a crucial role in the Boston case. Including private cameras, there were hundreds at the Boston Marathon. That was good for Boston.

But did you know more than 200 U.S. high schools had surveillance cameras installed in bathrooms and locker rooms to combat bullying?

In fact, they are everywhere in the U.S. Chicago has the most cameras, estimated at more than 10,000. They are mounted on street poles and skyscrapers, aboard buses and in train tunnels; the rail system alone has more than 3,600 cameras. Is Chicago any safer?

Some high brows may poo-poo my concern. If you mind your P’s and Q’s, you have nothing to worry about, they say. They don’t get it.

I’m not concerned with my actions. My concern is the actions of those watching.

If you’re gullible enough to believe every civil servant eye-balling those cameras is above reproach, well...good luck. Just imagine what an unscrupulous individual — think jealous boyfriend — could do with that information.

"It's now harder and harder to go about our lives without being tracked everywhere," said Ben Wizner, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Associated Press. Wizner specializes in privacy and technology issues.

"The ACLU doesn't object to cameras at high-profile public places that are potential terrorist targets," he said. "What we do object to is a society in which cameras are so pervasive that we can't go about our lives anywhere without them being recorded and stored in data bases forever."

"Americans still cite privacy as one of the core values they cherish, but what's happening is this slow, insidious erosion of it," adds Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University.

"Humans need at times to feel they can exist freely and without constant observation — it is essential to our right to association and expression," he said.

"And yet we have a generation being raised in a fishbowl society,” Turley told The Associated Press. “They're more tolerant of government surveillance, and that can be a danger to a free society."



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